The new marketing - getting customers to come to you

By: Marketing Donut contributor

Date: 14 September 2011

In part one of his blog, Marketing has changed — have you?, James Walters talked about the demise of traditional marketing. In part two he talks about the new marketing and how social media can help customers come to you.

The social networks are here

The reason that social media marketing is so successful in today’s business environment is down to the consumer mindset, rather than business strategists. As the internet (and digital marketing in general) have become well-estabished, people have been working hard to avoid unwanted adverts. Things such as pop-up blockers and spam filters are rendering direct online advertising campaigns (such as email marketing) costly and useless.

The alternative is to identify what people are doing online, and adapt a business strategy to fit in with it, rather than sitting outside it. Fortunately, this isn’t hard to achieve. The key is to take a closer look at what makes social media so popular.

The whole point of social media is that it’s social. People are interacting in more varied ways and more frequently than they used to — the only difference being that is mainly online. As a result, inbound marketing has the advantage over traditional outbound marketing.

The rebirth of word of mouth

Consider a customer who is looking to buy a new TV. They know they want a particular size of screen and they have a budget. They may have done some research, looking at brochures or magazines, for example. They tell their friends, who now know what they’re looking for. That person instantly has all the knowledge and experience of their friends at hand and can begin to explore options that they may not have thought about before. Now they know about that independent shop in the city centre where the owner is friendly, the prices are fair, and the salespeople don’t try to force a sale. This word of mouth has cost nothing and is likely to have secured a sale. This is the mentality that businesses need to understand.

Let your customers find you

People generally appreciate being allowed to research and purchase at their own pace, which fits perfectly within a social media marketing strategy. You no longer have to try and convince people that they want a product, but simply offer it to those who have already decided it is for them. If you make this a focal point of your content and ensure that your product is visible and available all the time, you reduce most of the effort trying to time launches, doing surveys and other activities. You won’t need to find someone to buy from you. They will find you.

This process is far less pushy. Rather than relying on more intrusive marketing activities, your company’s business strategy can benefit from online word of mouth, with the potential for thousands of unpaid people to essentially volunteer to advertise your company. Even better, their words will be far more trusted and will not be filtered out like an unwanted email marketing campaign.

It’s important to note that this process does not sit exclusively within the “what to buy” group. As well as allowing people to share ideas on what to buy, you have the added benefit of continued discussion, both before and after any sales. While you may already have a technical support department, the great thing with social media marketing is that you’ll draw in people who enjoy helping. Simply set up a forum and watch customers share ideas, tips and solutions.

James Walters is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut and is an account director at Inbound Marketing Consultancy, Tomorrow People.